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NPT as an antifragile system: how contestation improves the nonproliferation regime

Smetana, M. and O'Mahoney, J. ORCID: (2022) NPT as an antifragile system: how contestation improves the nonproliferation regime. Contemporary Security Policy, 43 (1). pp. 24-49. ISSN 1352-3260

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/13523260.2021.1978761


We introduce “antifragility” as a conceptual framework to understand the impact of occasional violations of regime norms on the health of respective regimes. Contrary to the prevailing understanding of norm violation as a strictly negative phenomenon that leaves regimes damaged, we show that normative deviance is, under certain conditions, a stressor that helps predominantly antifragile systems learn, improve, and adapt to changes in both internal and external environments. We apply this conceptual framework to the case of the NPT regime and the prominent violations of its nonproliferation norms by India in the 1970s (as a “contestation from outside”) and Iraq in the 1990s (as a “contestation from within”). Our findings question the prevailing catastrophizing narrative about the strictly negative impact of norm violations on regime stability and contribute to contemporary scholarly debates about norm dynamics within the NPT.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:100398


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